The Spanish third seed, who reached the Rome semi-finals past year before going on to win her sole career grand slam, will next face eighth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who earlier upset Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 7-6 (9).
The No.6-seeded Halep will move on to face No.15-seeded Kiki Bertens in Saturday’s semifinals at Rome. “So I’m just happy that I could win”. However, Pavlyuchenkova proved everyone wrong when she played some of her best tennis in this match, claiming three straight games to unexpectedly seal the second set 6-4 which lasted 47 minutes.
“I know I’m defending champion”, she said. “So I will take it in a positive way and we will see what happens”.
Johanna Konta took a proud record into her third-round match with American great Williams, having won their past three encounters.
The second set became like a galore of service breaks as it was a totally different case as compared to the first set, with Halep looking to exploit the weak mental toughness of the Russian when she held her serve for a 4-3 lead.
Simona Halep improved her record against Pavlyuchenkova to 7-0, despite briefly losing momentum in the second set. I feel it was a little bit tighter strung.
“I had to adjust, to adapt to this court, but was not easy at all today”.
Anett Kontaveit is next up for Halep after the qualifier defeated Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1 6-1. Bertens battled past Daria Gavrilova, 6-3, 6-3.